Jack Spicer, the barroom soothsayer of the “Berkeley Renaissance,” forged a new kind of poetry with Robert Duncan and Robin Blaser in the decade 1945–1955, grounded in their “queer genealogy” of Arthur Rimbaud, Federico García Lorca and other gay writers. Beginning his famous serial poem, After Lorca, in 1956, Spicer described it to Robin Blaser a year later:
“I enclose my eight latest ‘translations.’ Transformations might be a better word. Several are originals and most of the rest change the poem vitally. I can’t seem to make anybody understand this or what I’m doing. They look blank or ask what the spanish is for a word that isn’t in the spanish or praise (like Duncan did) an original poem as typically Lorca. What I am trying to do is establish a tradition. When I’m through … I’d like someone as good as I am to translate these translations into French (or Pushtu) adding more. Do you understand? No. Nobody does.”
Clearly, Spicer had not anticipated the birth of Garry Thomas Morse.
Not merely an homage to Jack Spicer, but also a tribute to his Orphic conception of the serial poem, After Jack is a palimpsestuous attempt to achieve the dark art of nekuia, to encourage the means of poetic transmission and to divine the polyphony of both Federico García Lorca and Jack Spicer as their voices interweave, transform and become inexorably entangled with a fresh and undeniably peculiar, disturbingly profane authorial voice.
Only via the enchanted act of re:writing can Billy the Kid make explicit the homosexual subtext of Gore Vidal’s 1955 TV play The Left-Handed Gun, or Walt Whitman turn into an apocalyptic figure, or the knights of the Round Table turn into the enlightened circle of the poet’s friends. But then, as Jack said, “we were never friends.”